The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and Cures

August 30, 2012

The Shidduch Crisis: Causes and CuresIt is an open secret that the shortage of marriageable men and the rate of divorce among the Orthodox are issues that are increasingly affecting the Jewish world.  The move away from mixed-sex socializing has led to a greater dependence on shadchans.  shadchans often use formulas and questionnaires to pigeon-hole applicants; the criteria they use in determining matches are often missing important elements in the character and personality of each party and parents’ fears that their daughters will “miss the boat” lead to marriages of couples who are too young to make mature choices.

The shadchan is not entirely to blame.  The parties themselves, inexperienced and led by their parents, often have their own “list” of what they think they seek in a partner.  “At present our world is based on lists…,” writes Dr. Salamon.  “Perhaps the most destructive of the items on our lists in the… ‘Orthodox Observance List,'” he says.  But the “proof” resides in superficial elements which have little bearing on how a marriage will fail or succeed.

Dr. Salamon suggests ways to go beyond the physical, superficial standards that have contributed to the shidduch crisis and to early divorce.  He advocates an approach whereby a measure of personal maturity is returned to those who are dating and makes the case for alleviating external pressures on the dating couple.

This review appeared in the Editor’s Choice section of Emunah Magazine.

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A Review of Shabbat: The Right Way

August 14, 2012

Shabbat: The Right Wayby Rabbi Johnny Solomon

In this collection of short halachic essays Rabbi Cohen ‘seeks to offer contemporary creative halachic responses to issues and problems that affect modern Jews’ (p. 16).

In general, most books within this genre of contemporary halachic guides on the laws of Shabbat are excessively strict and rarely provide the rationale for each decision. Rabbi Cohen, who is a community Rabbi in West Palm Beach, believes that his explorations must include a clear-cut decision, and be based ‘upon a process of open-minded Torah research rather than upon a preconceived tendency to be strict or lenient’ (p. 14). As such, within each essay he provides clear answers as well as a presentation of the sources that led him to his conclusion.

Some of the questions covered in this volume provide us with a greater understanding of Shabbat rituals such as when the Friday night candles should be lit or whether one should stand or sit for Kiddush.

Others provide refreshing insights into oft-misunderstood laws such as whether one can take pills on Shabbat or set a dishwasher on a timer on Shabbat.

However, perhaps the most refreshing element in this volume is where Rabbi Cohen addresses questions that rarely receive attention in English-language guides such as the halachic considerations of a Shabbat bus.

This is a wonderful book that provides the reader with a genuine yet accessible understanding of the halakhic process as well as insights on a wide range of Shabbat issues. Enjoy!

The original review appeared on Rabbi Johnny Solomon’s blog.


“Kajtuś, Kaytek, Korczak” – Interview with Antonia Lloyd-Jones

August 12, 2012

by Mikołaj GlińskiKaytek the Wizard

“Although Harry Potter faces adversity from cruel adults too, his world does not share the painful reality of Kaytek’s existence. Korczak wanted to help difficult children find ways to express themselves, and to overcome their troubles, so his aims were not purely to entertain”, Antonia Lloyd-Jones, the translator of Janusz Korczak’s Kaytek the Wizard talks about the differences between Kaytek and Harry Potter, and divulges her recommended Korczak reading for the world’s bankers

Culture.pl: Could you say something about your first encounter with the works of Janusz Korczak? Was it when you were still a child or later in life?

Antonia Lloyd-Jones: I was totally unfamiliar with the works of Janusz Korczak until I had learned Polish, as an adult. The first book of his that I read was King Matt the First in Richard Lourie’s translation. Unfortunately Korczak is not well known in the English-speaking world, either as a children’s author or as a pioneer of educational methods. My first real knowledge about him came with Andrzej Wajda’s 1990 film.

Culture.pl: I think reading Korczak in Polish is already quite a challenge. I mean especially his use of spoken language, ellipsis, language of children, jargon, etc. Maybe it’s just the Korczak idiom. Anyway, sometimes I’m just not quite sure if I get the sense right. It seems to require the right interpretation on the part of the reader. Do you also find him difficult as a writer?

A. L.-J.: Absolutely. His language is often quite ambiguous, and definitely presents the translator with a challenge, especially his dialogue. This is partly the result of his aim to reflect children’s speech genuinely, and to reproduce the words spoken to him by the children in his care. As I wrote in my Afterword, while he was writing Kaytek the Wizard he consulted with the children and changed the text according to their suggestions and wishes. As the publisher was keen for the translated book to be accessible to modern American children, I quite often had to make decisions about the meaning and expression that would meet their needs.

Culture.pl: What were the biggest problems with translating Kajtuś Czarodziej?

A. L.-J.: The biggest problem was with the name “Kajtuś”. English does not have an equivalent for the name Kajetan, and the diminutive “Kajtuś” would have been unpronounceable and unrecognizable to American (or other English-speaking) children. The hero is not actually called Kajtuś, but Antek, and only gains his nickname when a soldier passes by, sees him smoking, and says “Look at little Kajtuś, puffing away like an old man.” As Korczak’s original readers would have known, “Kajtuś” was a generic term used to address any little boy. So there were several considerations to take on board. The publisher and I discussed lots of possibilities. For some time I used the working name “Willy” (“Willy the Wizard”), purely for practicality, never as a Read the rest of this entry »